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UKfamsol, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 560
Experience:  Very experienced specialist family law solicitor, qualifed in 1994
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My son is in an marriage (he is African, she is

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My son is in an interracial marriage (he is African, she is English). They have two children. However, his wife seems to resent me for whatever reason and exercises complete control over my son and their children. They visit her parents often and spend all holidays, birthdays and Christmas with her parents. I am excluded in everything as the children's paternal grand parent. Distance is of course an excuse (I live in Surrey and they in Manchester). Whenever I have visited them in Manchester, she is unpleasant and not welcoming and my grandson has even repeated her sentiments (as children do), "grandma you must go back to your own house now".("....from the mouth of babes") I am extremely distraught by my children not having any cultural identification with me and having such little contact with me, which I always find to be "rationed" and unwelcome.
Do I have legal rights to provide my grandchildren with a balanced cultural identification and to know MY side of their heritage? Can I sue for unsupervised visitation to me? Quite frankly, I am uncomfortable going to their house due to being unwelcome.

Hello and thanks for your question.

I hear your distress - sadly I am sorry to have to tell you that grandparents have no automatic rights to see their grandchildren or to influence the children's upbringing.

You can ask the family court in the area where the children live to decide whether or not you should be alllowed to see your grandchildren, and exactly what sort of arrangement that should be ie how often, for how long each time, whether with or without anyone else being present, whether face-to-face or over the telephone etc.and how you might be allowed to give them some insight into the cultural heritage of their father's family, eg in the form of books/pictures/family photos/videos etc

Your application would be for a child arrangements order in form C100.You would need to ask the court for leave in form C2 to make your application, which would be granted if you convinced the court that you had a connection with the children, and that your application would not cause the children significant disruption.

The court would decide your application for a child arrangements order on the basis of what was best for the children, rather than who (you or the children's parents) shouted loudest. However, it is very difficult for a grandparent to persuade a court that he/she should have contact - especially unsupervised contact - with a grandchild if the natural parent is strongly opposed - because the child lives with the parent, and if the parent is distressed or angry, then that affects the child.

Unfortunately there is no longer any legal aid to cover this type of application to court. In addition, going to court is stressful, expensive and time-consuming.

However, you may have more success if you take a softly softly approach. The first step is to try mediation - especially as the family court now requires the parties to have attempted mediation before it will consider an application to court. Mediation is more informal - it's a round-the-table dicussion with a trained and neutral mediator. If your son and his wife could be perusaded to attend mediation with you, perhaps they could start to see how your contribution could benefit the children.

Here's where to find a local family law mediator:

The difficulty you will have is that you and the children's parents live so far apart. If you decide to try mediation, I would strongly advise you to find a mediator local to your son and your wife, as the easier it is for them to attend mediation, the more likely it is that they will agree to do so.

The charity Reunite offer a telephone mediation service where the parties in a family dispute live in different countries, and they may possibly be prepared to offer this service in your case. Here's their website:

I think you may also benefit from some face-to-face legal advice. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor:

I know this was not what you wanted to hear, but it would be wrong of me to give you faIse hope or be anything other honest about what the legal position is.

I hope this helps anyway and I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks and best wishes...

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